Cyclist Killed

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A car struck and killed a cyclist Monday, June 2 at 13th and Willamette.

The Eugene Police Department reported that a car driven by Latasha Ann Williams, 31, of Eugene struck and killed cyclist David Matthew Minor, 27, of Eugene at 3:47 in the afternoon.

An EPD press release states: "A very preliminary review of the investigative information indicates that speed does not appear to have been a factor. It appears that both parties likely had green lights, and that the bicyclist made a left-hand turn into the vehicle’s path."

Cyclists worried about the death may want to check out this web site on defensive riding:

The site covers many common hazards, but doesn't have much on safe left turns at busy intersections. Such turns are perhaps one of the most difficult urban cycling challenges for cyclists.

According to this site, one approach is to behave like a car and wait in the middle of the intersection for a gap in traffic. With tons of lethal hunks of metal hurtling all around, that could require some bravery and muscles for quick acceleration. Another approach is to go to the curb at the right-hand corner, turn your bike and then wait for the green to go the other direction. That may be safer and less frightening but requires twice the wait at the light.

A traffic engineering fix could involve a traffic island in the center of the intersection for bikes. Cyclists could take refuge there while waiting for a safe gap to turn left. The island would have to be designed so drivers could maneuver around it.

The city might also consider reexaming its heavy use of one way streets downtown. Such streets can cause dangerous confusion and are designed mostly to maximize car speeds. That's an odd goal in urban settings where the city is trying to reduce speeding for safety and get people to enjoy downtown. Many cities are converting one-way streets to two-way to increase safety and make downtowns more than just a place to speed through.

Many cities have also installed "bike boxes" to reduce "right hook" accidents where cars and trucks turn across bike lanes. Eugene has had one on High Street near City Hall for years. The boxes could allow a cyclist at a light to more safely shift to the left for a left turn. When painted brightly, these boxes could also help left turns by alerting motorists to watch for cyclists. But Eugene's box isn't painted.

Here's a bike box video showing Portland's brightly painted approach:

In contrast to Portland's highly visible bike safety improvements, below is a tiny street marking the city of Eugene recently put on a bike way through town. It's hard to see how a motorist would know what it is.

Meanwhile, the site of David Minor's death in Eugene has collected a highly visible, growing pile of flowers.

Alan steals other people's images? No!

If the detective work is factual, it was the bicyclist's fault for not yielding to oncoming traffic.

But still, a tragedy.

Pay attention, people! And wear your damn helmet!

Submitted by Chuck Adams on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 11:48.
Article Idea

My colleague and friend, David Minor, was the man killed in Monday's accident. I, along with all of Dave's family and friends, are still in a state of shock; grieving, trying to grasp the idea of life without Dave in it, here with us; we are devastated. Talk about the sweetest, most compassionate, polite, brightest shining light one could ever know. as I follow the media coverage of this horrific accident, I think about the dangers of biking in Eugene. I bike every day, and the observant journalist in me has been compiling dangerous scenarios, precarious situations, and specific sketch intersections, all of which pose a real danger to bicyclists. My idea for an article would present both sides of the coin: take the average bicyclist and the average motorist through the daily commute and examine the various safety challenges that they may/may not encounter on the average day. Complete with sidebar: "Absolute Bicycle Essentials" ... HELMETS, PEOPLE, HELMETS SAVE LIVES!, front AND rear lights, Do's and Don't's of everyday biking and driving: the rules of the road, using proper hand signals for bikers, being predictable, and the same for motorists: working turn signals, actually using your turn signal, actually coming to a complete stop behind, (not 5 ft. in front of) Stop signs, giving bikers a full lane's length for upcoming left hand turns (you can't "stay in the bike lane, f*!@^n idiot", when IT is on the right and you need to go left, checking blind spots for bikers before making right hand turns, etc. the article's focus would not be to pit "Bikers Against Cars!" but rather raising consciousness for everyone out there who shares our roads TOGETHER! I don't know what has gotten into the recent Craigslist Rants and Raves discussion forum, but if any "Car Person" actually thinks that ALL of "us bikers" are not afraid of sharing the road with thousands of pounds of steel bearing down on our biking booty, we need to bring some sensibility, awareness and education into the mix. I appreciate your commitment to real journalism and hope that you might consider this article idea in time for the Olympic Trials, when our population, and amount of cars on the road, are going to swell to scary proportions. Dave grew up in this town, loved it, but it has changed A LOT and everyone could use a refresher course when it comes to sharing the roads wisely. Thank you. Mary L.

Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 17:32.
Thanks Mary

Sorry for your loss. Thanks for the good ideas.

Submitted by Alan Pittman on Wed, 06/04/2008 - 22:03.
Smashups

I, too, bike through that intersection (13th and Willamette) on my daily commute after work during rush hour. Me and just about every biker/driver who works in west Eugene/downtown but lives in south Eugene. Fortunately I don't have to make any left hand turns across oncoming traffic. But the hairiest scene is always at 18th and Pearl, where cars stack up about 2 blocks back, drivers get distressed and make sudden right hand moves into the bike lanes, bikers have to somehow merge from the bike lane on the left side of the road to the bike lane on the right side of the road (nearly impossible with a literal Wall of Idling Cars bumper-to-bumper), and cars are waiting at intersections for 5 minutes or more for that brief window when they can gun it across Pearl--bikes be damned.

I seem to remember the R-G did a story on "the most dangerous intersection" a while back, but it only used stats on fender-benders. It may be worth it to do a study that includes bike vs. bike, bike vs. human, human vs. car and bike-vs.-car. Obviously West 11th and Bailey Hill Rd. (the most notorious for car vs. car smashups) would be low on the list, as bikers would be crazy to ride that stretch when the bike path is just a block over.

By the way, I saw cops on motorcycles pulling over bikes for minor infractions (not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign) yesterday. I have a feeling the World Naked Bike Ride could get ugly on Saturday night (why the fuck are they doing it at 11:30 pm on a weekend? Talk about a silly mix of drunk drivers and drunk bikers).

Submitted by Chuck Adams on Thu, 06/05/2008 - 09:20.
Being a safe rider

I am deeply sorry that our community has lost such a wonderful citizen. But, the police report seems to indicate that the bicyclist was at fault. I ride my bike through Eugene often, while always wearing a helmet, and always obeying the rules of the road.

When driving, I've had a lot of close calls with 1)bicyclists who didn't stop at stop signs and rode right in front of my vehicle; 2) bicyclists who were not wearing a light at night and who rode down the middle of the street in dark clothing; 3) bicyclists who were cruising down the sidewalk instead of the bike lane, going against the flow of traffic so that I didn't see them when I was backing out of a driveway and they came up and almost hit the side of my car.

I think too many bicyclists in this city take it for granted that because they can see a car, the car sees them. I make no moves into traffic without making eye contact with the driver. I always look over my shoulder before merging into traffic to turn left and I yield to oncoming traffic on my bicycle just as I would driving a car.

Last year my boyfriend was hit while riding his bike near Autzen Stadium. He was turning left onto Leo Harris Parkway and a car was too impatient to wait for him, so it tried to pass by him on the right and ended up "bumping" him as they cut him off -- leaving him splayed out over the asphalt. So yes, sometimes cars are the culprits.

But we all need to get along on the road, and I think Eugene is going to see more and more cyclists sharing the roads as the price of gas rises, so we all could use more education.

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